A surge of skilled automotive and diesel technicians is needed nationwide over the next decade, according to new employment projections released this week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
With its new 2016-2026 report, the BLS has more than tripled its 2014 estimate for the number of “new entrant” transportation technicians necessary to meet industry demand. The BLS now estimates more than 120,000 new technicians – on average – are needed each year in the coming decade to work as automotive and diesel technicians and in collision repair. By 2026, that equates to approximately 1.2 million new technicians nationwide.
“The transportation industry leaders who employ our graduates consistently say they need more skilled, trained technicians – and now the demand we’re seeing on the ground is backed up by these new federal employment projections,” said Kim McWaters, President and CEO of Universal Technical Institute (UTI). “UTI is well-positioned to help meet this industry demand as the nation’s leading provider of training for students seeking careers as transportation technicians. Better still, our graduates are poised to benefit from the strong employment market for their skills and training.”
“One of the biggest challenges we face is in recruiting enough skilled technicians to meet the needs of our customers,” said Paul Neumann, Vice President of Human Resources for Penske Automotive Group. “This federal report should be a clarion call to students, parents, and policymakers about the growing workforce opportunities across the skilled trades, especially in the high-tech service shops of the automotive and diesel industry.”
According to the latest BLS data, between now and 2026, the transportation industry will require, on average, approximately 76,000 new automotive technicians; 28,000 diesel technicians; and 17,000 collision repair technicians each year to fill new positions in the industry or to replace technicians who leave the occupation due to retirement or other reasons.
TechForce Foundation, a nonprofit corporation focused on helping solve the technician shortage, has identified a handful of primary factors driving increased demand for new transportation technicians, including:
- A sustained cycle of economic growth, resulting in more demand for automotive and transportation services;
- “Catch-up” demand due to the number of technicians who left the industry during the Great Recession;
- Workforce attrition as Baby Boomers reach retirement age; and
- The increasingly complex nature of modern vehicles, which makes advanced training a must for new technicians.
According to TechForce Foundation, meeting the workforce needs of the transportation industry requires a coordinated and concerted effort within the transportation industry to educate Americans about the quality jobs available to technicians. This includes: shifting outdated, negative public perceptions toward work in the skilled trades and building a stronger employment pipeline among young students who’ve demonstrated an interest and aptitude for automotive and technician-related work.
“It is going to take all of us working together to educate students and the general public about the great career opportunities in the skilled trades,” said McWaters. “UTI students graduate with strong job prospects and excellent opportunities to build a rewarding career in the transportation industry. We’re going to continue partnering with our automotive, diesel and other employer partners to help give this growing industry the trained, ready workforce it needs.”